Litany Against Comfort

March 9, 2021 by Ishaan Koratkar

We must not get comfortable.

Comfort is the ambition-killer.

It is the small relaxation that ends innovation.

We will end our stagnation.

And when it has gone past we will turn to see its path.

Where the comfort has gone there will be originality. Only the builders will remain.

Adapted from Frank Herbert’s Litany Against Fear.

Explanation

In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the Litany Against Fear is a mental tool used to focus in a time of danger. The effect it has is very real, and I’ve heard it used in situations where death is looming over any mistakes (i.e. Scuba diving accidents).

In our current society, there exists the threat of getting comfortable and stagnating in innovation. It’s often that policies and culture grow to suffocate entrepreneurs and innovation. The education system is so harsh to those without money, and it often doesn’t really teach you how to learn. And the fact that so many in power just accept this reality! This is a severe problem that spreads like a cancer. This essay is mostly aimed at those in power and society at large, not at a specific group of people.

For individuals, I think comfort is also an ambition-killer. But instead of aiming for the specific act of being in discomfort, we should aim for a more monastic view of our life, and learn to love learning and our work. Deliberate practice (the act of doing work just above your skill level to improve) seems like it comes naturally when you are interested in your craft. We don’t seem to notice the discomfort during deep work.

I dislike the boomers who wail about how soft and uninterested the current generation is, even if I do see a grain of truth in those words. Stagnation is a society wide problem, and blaming it on the kids makes us less exited to work in your old and broken view world. The future won’t look like the past, and a healthy and innovative society won’t look like the version of itself that it used to.

2021/03/09 by Ishaan Koratkar